my love letter to {our community} in Africa

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I returned from Africa just over a week ago and even after a week I can’t seem to put to words what that time meant to me.  How do I help you to understand what it was like to arrive at the Entebbe airport at 11 pm to a welcoming crew that had driven four hours to come and pick me up, hugs from everyone.  How I was at a loss for words for most of the three hour trip home because I was so busy taking in every passing motorbike and roadside stand filled with people eating food cooked on fires, or the smell of those fires which fills the air and always reminds me of Africa or India.  What words will express the feeling of meeting our team member Sharon for the first time and feeling like we were immediately sisters, and then spending the next two weeks with her and Dr. Isaac and Godfrey, acting like four siblings, teasing and laughing and sharing some of the most incredible moments and all four of us really “getting it”.

 

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The team had our time together tightly scheduled so that we could do as much as possible in the short time I was there.  This trip was meant for learning and I learned so much.  We went from 9 am – 7 pm every day, visiting our community daily as well as seeing local organizations that dealt with things like malnutrition, jigger removal and care and working to keep families together. We also spent one day at the children’s hospital visiting the wards, distributing much needed supplies and learning what the biggest issues are (most things are secondary to malnutrition).  We visited farms and farmers who shared so much information on growing successful gardens to feed our community, as well as farms who raised chickens for both eggs and meat.  We learned about water storage, I saw first hand how far people in our community travel to fetch it, and now more than ever I see the importance of wells.  We visited schools where we talked to children about their dreams and aspirations (and found that many children in our community don’t have dreams, but they are starting to!).

 

 

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So instead of trying to give you the day by day report, I thought I would instead share with you some of the most special moments of the trip- moments that will stay with me forever and made me fall so in love with our project and the community we work with that I am going to do everything possible to make our goals a reality.  I really wish you could all come with me, to meet these incredible, strong, determined people and see what I saw- that if anyone can bring themselves out of poverty and really difficult circumstances, it is this community.  They are amazing.  And they are just the beginning…

 

The welcoming party was filled with dancing, singing and hugs.  I immediately felt embraced and a part of this community.  They show their love and happiness by singing and dancing and it is a beautiful thing to witness.

 

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Mamas- they were so quick to show their love, embracing me into their families, lifting me up when I was so very sad to leave.  I felt so blessed to be surrounded by that kind of nurturing, not as a mama myself, but as a daughter.  I miss hugging those wonderful women.  These women are the strongest women I have ever met.  I was humbled to be able to even attempt what they do every single day.  They can carry a jerry can full of water on their head, a baby on their back and bags from the market in both hands.  They raise not only their own children, but oftentimes their grandchildren as well.  They left me inspired and I am already looking forward to the next time I will spend time with them.

 

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This is Topista and I KNOW if we lived in the same city we would be friends.  She is a mama of six, and she is always smiling.  She is the definition of positive and grace.  And even though she has a shy disposition, when she was asked to sing and dance for me, she put her whole heart into it.  I watch the video below regularly to remind me of how special her friendship is.

 

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I knew I loved Jussie before I even met her.  I had followed her story through photos the team had sent me over the past year.  This young mama is the same age as #1, with three babies of her own.  She is an incredible mama and I told her that I would be so blessed to have a daughter like her.  While I often talk about adopting a little girl from Uganda, what it is I really wish for is a daughter like Jussie, that I could tell all of the things I wish I had been told.  And so I did- I told her she is an amazing mama who is so strong.  I told her that she is smart and could do anything she puts her mind to.  And I told her that I love her.  Many times.

 

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Laughter- these mamas laugh often-  they laugh and tease and support each other.  Laughter that comes from deep down in their souls and lights up their entire faces.  Gorgeous, beautiful faces.  While we didn’t share a language, we definitely shared laughter.

 

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The men- Fred, Alenga, John, Moses (who am I forgetting) – men that step outside of the “normal” roles of men in this culture and work hard beside the women, being role models, stepping up when women need help, building gardens to teach others how to do it, then sharing starts with others to start gardens of their own.  They helped build kitchens and latrines and whatever else is needed.

 

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Holding babies- babies sleeping, babies crying, baby Mabel on my back- one of THE MOST special moments of the trip.  It wasn’t just having her asleep on my back, it was working in a field, with a simple hoe, in the Africa sun, with a baby on my back.  Those mamas are beyond amazing.

 

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I feel so lucky to have had those two weeks.  With the time there the team had a chance to really discuss where we came from and where we would like to go with this project.  We have big goals and are so confident that this partnership is going to bring great things to this community.  But our hope is that it will not only effect this community, but continue to spread throughout the area to other villages, bringing health and prosperity to people all over rural Uganda.

 

Soon we will be sharing an incredible campaign that we would love for you to be a part of.  We are working with professionals to complete the plans and as soon as we have all of our information collected, we will be unveiling it to you!  Stay tuned!

 

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In the garden {zinnias}

 

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This year for the first time ever I started some of my flower seeds in pots.  I hadn’t done it before and to be quite honest, at the time it seemed like a lot of extra work.  I tend to like things that take very little “babysitting” and these seeds needed planting, and then transplanting.  However, I will tell you that now, I am a believer.

 

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Zinnias have always been one of my favorite summer flowers.  I love their vibrant colors and sturdy petals.  I have tried to grow them a number of times but they have never done all that well.  I am usually quite pleased if I get a dozen flowers come June.  This year however I have a garden FULL of these gorgeous blossoms!  They stand tall in the gardens, their bright colors shining amidst the lettuce, carrots, radishes and arugula.  I have them in pots.  I have them spread throughout the entry garden.  They brighten the back patio near my Grammy’s swing by the fireplace.  And they make me so very happy when I see them.

 

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I love cutting flowers for the house and if I were ever to plant a formal cutting garden these tall beauties would be the cornerstone of that garden.  With their upright stalks and solid petals that last longer than some, they are a great addition to colorful bouquets.  I have them all over the property this year but next year I am inspired to grow even more.

 

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I really love their colors when in full bloom, but I also enjoy them at each stage on their way to full bloom.  They have now solidified their place as a summer garden staple.  I will try to harvest some seeds for next year and see if I can get them to grow next summer.  If so, I will share my seeds with you~

 

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Happy summer break friends,

x

 

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{Tilly holders} are in the shop!

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I love tiny air plants- I have ever since my Grampy got me on them hooked years and years ago.  What is easier than a little plant that simply needs a soak once a week to survive?  It is amazing that there are so many varieties available these days and I am enjoying buying ones that catch my eye.  I made these little holders so that I could hang mine in our bathroom and am now offering a limited number of them in the shop.  They could also be used to hold salt next to your stove~

You can find the Tilly holders as well as a few pieces of pottery and a few more pieces of our handmade bead jewelry from Uganda in the shop now~

 

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Happy weekend friends!

A name change, {an addition} and getting ready

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Hello friends!

It feels like it has been forever, but truth be told, things have been so busy around here that the time has flown. There is a little part of me that feels bad about not checking in more, not sharing all of the wonderful spring activities that are happening here on the farm. But that feeling is overridden by the fact that I am enjoying just living in the moment so very much these days.  The thought of trying to capture it all and translate it into words seems impossible at times.  How does one share the feeling of waking to a bright sunny day, birds singing outside windows that have been left open through the night to let the warm spring air in.  How can I share with you the smell of a huge bush of lilacs near the front door with it’s sweet fragrance or the numerous climbing roses that trail over outbuildings, covered in blossoms.  And there are so many little things – bushes filled with flowers that in turn are covered in bees, most of which are bumbles but I still get excited every time I spot one of our honeybees!  Or the little yellow bird that I saw in one of the Japanese maples two days ago – a little fellow I have never seen before, jumping around, a faded red spot on his head, playing with a little Nuthatch.  And the hummingbirds!  I love that I often hear them before I see them, scrapping over who will eat first.  The whir of their wings as they whiz overhead.

 

We were also really busy lately trying to finish the seemingly never-ending deck addition.  Do you remember what it looked like “before”?  It was a big flat tall wall with very little character.  We rarely spent time on that side of the house and the garden went untended, filled with weeds.

 

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I am thrilled to share that this is what it looks like now!

 

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We used simple classic fixtures and the ceiling is white tongue in groove that is simply a continuation of what we have inside the house.  I wanted a very subtle railing so I opted for this wire fencing to create a barrier but enable light to pass through and potentially things to grow on it.

 

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Conversation for this project began last July and here we are in June, not quite finished but, for now, perfectly fine to use.  We have had a few contractors working on it, but in the end it took handsome husband and daddy to finish with the paving stones.  The two of them are a pretty amazing team and they work really well together accomplishing a new project every May when daddy visits.  I love to see their easy interaction, discussing how to do this or that and each taking a part of the job without really discussing it.  I feel so incredibly blessed to have them both work so hard on a project that has caused me more than a few tears and angry words.  They knew how much I wanted to get this project wrapped up enough to be able to use the space- seeing as it IS time to begin enjoying meals outdoors!  I never dreamt that it would take this long to finish this project but am so happy with how they finished up the last big job.  The only thing left is a brick fireplace of sorts that we will create inspired by one we saw while on holiday in France.  Thankfully that isn’t an integral part of the space as right now I need a little break from working on it.

 

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The fireplace will be made from old bricks we bought from a man who is renovating a house in West Seattle.  I absolutely love them- and am grateful to my dad and to #1 for making trips with me to pick them up, loading and unloading them.  NOT an easy job…

 

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I will say that I have enjoyed sitting out there every day that the weather has been nice- which has been often lately.  It is sunny when I need some warmth but shady when the heat climbs to more than I can handle- usually around 75…  ;)

So, as we have been making some changes here on the farm, and as I am working on some other changes with regards to projects and building The Grow Hope Foundation, I felt that it was time to change the name of the farm.  I have been wanting to do so for some time now.  While Blackberry Farm is appropriate seeing as we have endless blackberries growing on the property, I didn’t like that there was another Blackberry Farm- and amazing incredible Blackberry Farm already in existence.  The name didn’t really feel right.  Thus, after trying different names, combinations of things that we grow, things that we like, etc, the farm has been renamed~

 

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And- now that we have made that change- it’s time to really focus on other things- namely, The Grow Hope Foundation.  With my trip coming up I have so much planning and organizing to do.  I have been making lists, prioritizing, researching and planning.  I have so many ideas and thoughts and am so excited to get there, photograph all of the progress that has been made, meet with the team on the ground in Uganda and discuss where we go from here.  We are all really looking forward to having time together in person to work out the details going forward after a year of work in the community.  I can’t wait to capture what has been done so far as well as meet the people that I feel like I already know from all that I have heard about them.  I am so excited to return home and share with you all that I learn there and to move forward with making The Grow Hope Foundation a strong successful organization that helps people create opportunities and enables them to improve their circumstances.   I know that together we CAN make this happen!

Have a wonderful weekend friends~

x

Two weeks in {France}

 
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Hello friends,

 

I am happy (so very very happy!) to announce that spring has finally arrived on our little farm on the hill.  The lilacs- my very favorite spring blossoms – are in full bloom and we have a very old, very big bush that is filled with fragrant blooms.  I had also planted a number of bushes along the west perimeter of our property down in the garden pasture a few years ago and they too are covered in purple (and a bit of white as well).  I am so happy that they are here as I was away for the past two weeks and I was nervous that their season would be finished when I returned.  If you know lilacs, you know how short their blooming season is!

 

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The past two weeks were spent driving around one of my favorite countrysides – in France.  Handsome husband and I had been invited to a wedding in the northern Pay de la Loire region and we decided to make a holiday of it.  It was a wonderful mix of romantic time spent with my favorite partner in crime driving through the sweetest villages, with no agenda other than spending our first night with dear friends in their beautiful home in Normandy and the wedding.

 

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We began our adventure when HH picked me up at CDG airport on his way from Germany.  We headed straight for Rabbit Hill as I was excited to see friends and for HH to meet people that I love.  We enjoyed an afternoon and evening dining on wonderful food, drinking wine (and beer for the men-folk) and talking endlessly.  French husband and HH got along marvelously and it made me so happy to know that he know understands what I love so much about our dear friends.  We departed the next morning but thankfully there were no tears as I knew I would be seeing Cat again in Paris in a week.

 

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We headed south and meandered our way through country roads, stopping for snacks or the occasional cafe.  We came across what will go down as one of my favorite French villages – Falaise- with it’s gorgeous architecture, quiet streets lined with shops, boulangeries and historical buildings.  We spent an hour or so wandering the streets in the sunshine and I pulled out my “proper” camera to capture some of the beauty that surrounded us.  There were some really old buildings I would have loved to explore but we were heading to a dinner with the happy couple and some of their close friends so we were soon on our way.

 

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The wedding was a once in a lifetime event.  Hosted on the bride’s late Grandfather’s incredible property, which was covered in 10-20 foot sculptures (he was a sculpture).  The dinner was held in his studio/workshop/gallery and it was amazing.  As her grandfather has passed, the workshop was filled with numerous unfinished pieces – many of which I would be thrilled to put in our home.  He was an incredibly talented man and his work lives on.  The house on the property had recently been renovated by the bride and groom and it is a gorgeous very old home with heavy beams and a stone exterior with my favorite blue shutters.

 

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After the wedding weekend HH and I headed to Nantes for a night, where we explored an old fort in the middle of the city.  We had a nice romantic dinner that evening and stayed in a hotel that was a renovated old church.  Interesting to say the least.  I wish I could say more about Nantes and it was there that I realized I have been spoiled.  It has been a long time since we have visited a city that we didn’t know and didn’t have a “host” there to show us the best spots.  It isn’t nearly as fun for me to visit someplace where I haven’t a clue as to where to walk, what to see and where to eat.  Thus, one night in Nantes was enough for us.  We decided that we needed a couple days of R & R and so we headed north- back to the seaside of Normandy, where I knew of a wonderful spot for just that!

 

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Manior des Impresionistes is a spot that Cat shared with me last summer when I was visiting and in need of peace and nurturing.  It is the perfect spot for such things- beautifully renovated, situated on a sloping hill with a gorgeous view of the sea.  Since last summer they have opened a wonderful soothing spa that is THE place to enjoy peace, re-focus and simply relax.  Our room was on the third floor with a beautiful view, a full luxurious bathroom and comfortable inviting furnishings.  We spent two days enjoying the quiet.  We had a morning at the spa – which the reserved JUST FOR US- where we relaxed in the steam room and sauna, as well as the spa pool just above the beautiful ocean.  Listening to the birds and smelling the salt air was the perfect place to find rejuvenation.  In the afternoon Cat came to spend time shopping in beautiful Honfleur, which I loved.  Meanwhile husband had the quiet time he was looking forward to – and we BOTH were happy.  On our last night there we had a fabulous double-date with Cat and French husband which was the perfect way to wrap up our time together in France.  The next morning we were off to Paris!

 

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I had rented an apartment in the 6th, half a block off of the Seine- a bright airy walk-up (read: a LOT of stairs (read: great for the bum!)) with a roof-top patio that had a view of the top of the tour Eiffel, the Seine and Sacre Coeur.  It was wonderful!  HH and I had one evening there before he flew home and then it was girls’ weekend!

 

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I spent the morning before the ladies started to arrive wandering the streets of the 6th and 7th, taking photos and popping in to shops that looked interesting.  It was a beautiful day and spring was in the air.  I walked through one of those amazing farmer’s markets that are one of the main reason I love France so much, and wished that I could buy a bag full of their gorgeous produce, cheeses, and fish to prepare for my family.  However, I simply enjoyed the beautiful displays and moved on.   Thank goodness market season is in full-swing here at home so that I can enjoy some of that here!

 

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The girls began arriving that afternoon- Cat came first and we had an afternoon together walking everywhere.  We did some shopping, some eating, and more walking.  Ange and Simone arrived the next morning and for the next two days we laughed, talked, ate, drank wine, walked, shopped and talked some more.  It was, by definition, the definitive “Girls Weekend”.  I loved every moment of it- until the good-byes that is.  All three of those girls know how much I suck at that…

 

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My last night was spent with Ange where we stayed at the GORGEOUS French apartment owned by her dear friends.  We were spoiled, fed, wined and tucked in for the night by our hosts and it was the perfect way to wrap up such a wonderful trip.  I left with a very full suitcase which included a bottle of the delicious wine our hosts had gifted me and a full heart – grateful that I have been so blessed to know such wonderful friendship.

 

 

 

{Follow along!}

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Hello friends!

 

With the arrival of the sun and with it the warmer weather of spring I am not often on my computer.  Thus, posting seems to all but disappear sometimes.  However, if you want to follow along on our adventures on the farm or our travel to wonderful places around the globe, you can easily to so on Instagram! http://instagram.com/kimberlytaylorimages  It’s quick and easy, not to mention visual- of which I am totally in love with.

 

Happy Tuesday!

x

 

{growing things}

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First of all, thank you so very much for your kind and thoughtful comments on my last post.  I don’t tend to want to get personal in a negative way on this site as it is meant to be a happy inspiring place.  However, when I do, you are such an amazing supportive and caring group and for that I am so grateful.

 

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So, aside from getting teary lately  :)  I have been really enjoying planting indoor plants.  I used to have quite a few of them but then my focus became the gardens and growing things outdoors, and I found that the indoor plants took too much of my time and focus- making sure they were all properly cared for.  However, this second half of winter I have been really looking forward to spring.  There is something comforting and earthy about having plants growing indoors.  Add to that the fact that the nurseries have so many gorgeous and fun things to choose from- and I have become a bit obsessed…

 

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One thing my Grampy used to grow when I was younger were Tillies.  Tillandsia is a species of plant from the family Bromeliaceae which grow naturally in forests, deserts and mountains of Central and South America. They require no soil- just a good watering, either mist or submersion depending on the plant- and a nice place to sit.  They are so fun to buy as there is a wide range of looks and colors.  I have been making clay Tilly holders that I will be listing the next time I open the shop.  Check your local nurseries as I am guessing you will find some there~

 

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I am also enjoying putting little terrariums together.  I have wanted to do a workshop forever as I think they are so fun to mix up and make little scenes in them.  That is on my spring agenda- as wouldn’t it be fun to clear off our large farmhouse table and cover it will all sorts of plants, soil, rocks, sand and glass vessels and have a terrarium party?

 

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{mexico} and going forward

 

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Hello friends,

 

I feel like I have neglected this little place in my life lately.  So many things going on, life getting in the way, travel, projects.  I love it here and it usually isn’t until I return that I realize how much I have missed it.  It is the place I come to share the parts of my life that give me joy, or inspiration, or to share things I think you too will appreciate.  I try to keep it rather light- except for the times when I need you to really understand the weight that your support can carry; the lives you can help change.  I don’t tend to do a lot of “venting” here, or divulging of private information- I feel like we all have enough of that in our “local” lives that we don’t need more drama coming from me.  But I want to share something that I experienced a couple of weeks ago, and it may get a bit personal.  There are no recipes, or inspiration in this post- only me, and some of the parts may not be all that pretty.  Proceed with caution…

 

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Last month #4 and I took a trip to Mexico to visit my brother and his wife.  This brother, who is 3 1/2 years younger than I am, is the one I grew up with.  He is the one that I knew from the moment that he was born, the one who’s hand I held and rubbed the back of when he was a toddler as it was so soft.  It is strange, the things you remember the clearest.  We argued – a lot – as children, but I don’t think I thought about it a lot growing up.  What I do remember about our childhood is that I was “in charge” of him a lot when we were young.   It was a time (the 70s) when kids came home from school alone and no one worried.  A time when, come summer, we left the house in the morning to play in the neighborhood and didn’t return home until after a game of kick-the-can long after sunset.  It was a different time.  But what I remember about us- about my brother and I – was that because I was responsible for him I bossed him around.  A lot.  And I’m sure, as anyone would, he hated it.  I won’t go into the whys or the whats of our childhood- suffice it to say that there are many things I had conveniently “forgotten” about that time.  I know now that it was a survival tactic- but back then, it was just survival.

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When I was 16 and my brother was 12 my mother moved back to Canada from the states.  It was a sudden decision and one that we had no say in.  As I was going into my junior year of high school I decided that I would not move to Canada with her.  My brother, however, went.  And that was the end of my life living with a little brother, the only brother I had ever known.  (right now I am struggling for words to put here,  because of all that I have been re-processing over the past two weeks, it has again suddenly hit me at how insane, how wrong and completely fucked up that is- being torn away from your little brother)  I went to live with my dad, and continued on with school.  It was a messed up time.  I was an hormonal pissy teenage girl who was so angry that her mother had abandoned her, and I’m pretty sure I made life hell for my dad and step-mom.  God bless them for not kicking me out over the two years that I was there.

 

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For whatever reason, (and a clear sign of how messed up I was at the time) when I graduated school I decided it was a good idea for me to move to Canada to live with my mom rather than going to college.  Two things- 1. I was all kinds of messed up at that point.  I can’t accurately and fully convey the disaster that was my mental state in any way that will make you understand what a hot mess I was.  and, 2. I don’t for one minute regret that decision, as through it I gained two incredible boys and, most likely two more little ones years later.  So, off I went to Canada to start anew.  I moved in with my mom, her boyfriend and my little brother where I stayed for – well, again, I have blocked much of that time so I can’t really tell you how long I was there.  I’m pretty sure it was less than a year.  Even though I lived with my little brother we didn’t bond through that time.  I know he had his own demons to battle, and my heart breaks for that wasted time that we could have possibly found a way to connect and be each other’s ally through it all.  However, that wasn’t the case and as soon as I was able to move out on my own I did just that.

 

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Fast forward 24 years.  Mid-winter break was coming up and my brother and his wife had moved to Mexico within the past year.  I had probably seen them twice since their wedding nine years ago and hadn’t seen him more than two or three other times in those 24 years.  We rarely talked and only sent the occasional message through facebook.  And that was it- life as siblings.  (again, a loss, as what the hell made me think that was okay???)  But for some reason, the idea to visit them with #4 came and when I asked them what they thought they seemed to be excited at the possibility.  So we booked tickets and planned to go.  I had no idea what to expect, but knew that this may be my one chance to connect with two people whom I love and who are my family.  But mostly I was just excited to see my little brother.

 

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Sissy and her dad (whom I have adored since he stitched up #2 at their rehearsal dinner 9 years ago) picked us up from the airport and I was so excited to see them after a long day of travel with three flights and time at four different airports.  My brother had dropped them off to meet us and then waited in the car (Mexican airport parking issues) until we were ready for him.  When I saw him- well, he seemed so grown up.  I know I had seen him a few years prior for a day but it really hit me when I saw him in Mexico.  My little brother wasn’t little.  And our life had passed us by- it hadn’t waited for things to be fixed, it just kept on moving along, me without a little brother.   It was the first time my heart felt a tiny bit shattered by it all.

 

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We arrived at their beautiful home, got the tour, met their incredibly well-trained dogs and then went for a little walk around the neighborhood.  Finn and I were enthralled from the very first moment.  The smell of the plumeria trees, the orange trees, the oranges!  There were cactus everywhere, the air was warm, and – for the first time since considering going on this trip – I felt like this may have been a very good idea indeed.  #4 was immediately smitten with my brother and from those first few minutes, the two of them were inseparable.  It was amazing to watch, a bit emotional and completely joyous for me to see two of my very favorite people on the planet bond like that.  I was grateful, and humbled that the man that I had loved when he was a child was now loving my child.

 

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The entire week was a whirlwind of amazing destinations, quiet walks on beaches or through beautiful old towns with whitewashed adobe homes.  It was incredible food, good wine (well, good wine one night- that second night, let’s just say someone “may” have purchased a bottle of wine not exactly meant for enjoying more than a very small glass, while someone else “may” have consumed most of the bottle herself) and deep, meaningful conversation.  That conversation is what meant the most to me on the trip, and is also what has left me in a state of just left of crazy since  I have returned home.  One thing I do need to share, however, is that my sister-in-law may be one of the MOST insightful, understanding, kind and empathetic people on the planet.  And I get to have her as a sister-in-law- although really, she is a sister that I have never had.  Through her we were able to talk about things that were tough, and ugly – things that I had forgotten for so many years.  You have to remember- my brother is the only person on the planet who really knows what my childhood was like.  He is the only one I can talk to who actually “gets it”  - who can relate, help me remember and understand my feelings.  While we dealt with growing up differently, I think that he understands why I coped the way I did- even if, as a child, he hated me for it.  He told me that, you know.  That he hated me for most of his life.  I cried.  I cried because I was a child and I didn’t do anything to him that would make him hate me, and yet he did, because of the situation.  And I don’t blame him- at all.  I hated me.  But we lost 40 years.  FORTY FUCKING YEARS.  And the worst part is that he is cool, and funny, and hella smart.  And did I mention funny?  And only NOW am I getting a chance to know that.  And I hate that.  And over the past four or five years I haven’t been much of a crier.  I haven’t had any reason for tears.  Sometimes I have to actually watch a sad movie if I know I need a good cry because I simply don’t have anything to cry about.  But now- NOW I cry often.  I get teary for all sorts of reason.  I get teary when I see Tia and Tio (auntie and uncle in spanish- what #4 calls them) on video chat working with #4 on his spanish.  I get teary knowing they are so far away and that I don’t even know when we will see them again.  I get teary writing this post.  I’m a damn faucet.  But it’s good, it’s healing happening, and even though I’m sad and so damn angry, I’m also hopeful.  And so damn grateful for that trip.  And for them.

 

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I guess the problem is, when I was young and my life consisted of my parents and my brother, that was all I knew.  But as a mother- a person blessed to raise and guide and influence and love and cherish these four incredible boys- I am horribly saddened by my childhood.  I simply hadn’t really thought about it before- which I know sounds ridiculous.  But I had buried it and moved on, and considered myself all the better for doing so.  But I wasn’t better- I was BURYING IT – and all that is is a festering wound that never heals and gets infected and one day that infection gets so bad that you have the choice of either treating it or letting it destroy you.

I’m starting therapy.  I need it- I probably always have.  I can’t do confrontation.  At all.  It terrifies me and makes me physically ill.  I can’t even talk to someone who works for us if there is an issue that needs resolution for fear of someone getting upset with me.  What the hell?  So yes, therapy seems like a good idea.  Because if you say something about me, endlessly, I won’t confront you- but talk smack about my kids and I will TAKE. YOU. DOWN.  I need to take you down in defense of me.  Because I’m worth it.  We all are.

 I’m sure there is so much more I wanted to tell you, but then again I really didn’t plan on telling you this much.  But it’s healing, and it’s a start.  And it’s time- I need to start.

Pretty pictures, no?  It was outstanding- gorgeous in a tropical non-tourist blue water white buildings palm trees and cactus and lots of sunshine sort of way.  And we loved it.  Every single minute.  (and the black dolphins!  how can I forget #4 being in the water a mere 30 feed from black dolphins playing in the surf???)

(and I wish I could show you a photo of #4′s face when he sees photos of his Tio- there is such joy and excitement there, even though he misses him mucho.  thank goodness for video chat…)

 

x

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{You} can make a difference

 

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Good morning friends!

 

I am so (sosososososo) excited to share an update with you on sweet Miracle- who truly is a miracle.  If you visit The Grow Hope Foundation’s website you will see what has become of this little angel~

 

x

 

 

Planning meals and gardens and sharing some {beautiful cards}

wildflower design_courtney khail for kim

 

Hello friends,

Today I would like to enlist your help as I am working on a few projects.  One involves food- planning healthy tasty meals for my boys.  I am doing a bit of an overhaul around here as we have removed wheat from one diet, excess wheat from the rest of us, and lowering our dairy intake.  Thus there are days when I feel as if I am in a bit of a meal-planning rut.  To that end, I would love for you to answer any or all of the following questions.  I think that many of you may also be interested and inspired by the answers (as it is no secret that I have amazing, creative, generous and inspiring readers!).

1.  What 12 items would you keep on hand at all times to help prepare  your favorite meals?  Some of my current staples are rice, good canned tomatoes, grated cheese, eggs, onions, potatoes and homemade stock (chicken and vegetable).

2.  What are your favorite bean or grain recipes?  (I have far too much quinoa , farro, and a gorgeous variety of beans in my pantry with absolutely no idea what to best do with them…)

3.  Do you pack your children’s lunch- or yours?  If so, what do you like to put in it so that it is interesting and appetizing?  Right now we do a lot of fruit leathers, cheese sticks, nacho chips, apple slices, mandarines, and dried fruit.

4.  If you live in France and continually post amazing photos of creative stews, soups and meals- would you please share your recipes?  Okay fine- that was specifically meant for a dear friend whom I bug daily to send inspiration.  However, if you enjoy hearty stews or slow-cook meals, what are your favorites?

 

honeycomb design_courtney khail for kim

 

5.  I am in the process of planning our gardens for the coming season.  Currently we are adding blueberry bushes (which will bring our count up to 7) and moving raspberries to a sunnier spot.  I plan to do a large teepee to grow beans up where #4 can play.  We have expanded our rhubarb as it is something I use a lot of.  We have espalier asian pears as well as some really old apple trees.  One of these days we will plant a proper orchard.  We always grow a lot of peas – shelling and sweet.  How do you trellis yours? We also grow a number of rows of carrots- do you have a favorite? Tomatoes can be tough because while I always get a lot, they often don’t ripen in time to beat the cold of autumn.  Any suggestions on types that ripen early that you like?  I am adding asparagus this year, and plan to grow them in a box with jerusalem artichokes.  Thoughts?

6.  We are also adding some baby chicks in about a month.  We have had such an awful run with the coyote as of late so I am planning ahead and getting a few more chicks than I normally will so that come Autumn I won’t have to go buy pullets for a ridiculous price.  We really love eggs around here and #s 2 & 3 have gotten pretty proficient at making themselves some pretty tasty egg dishes.  Do you have a recipe that you love- frittata?  baked eggs?  fabulous scrambles?

If you have any thoughts, answers to my questions or input, please leave it in the comment section for all to share.  I love the idea of sharing knowledge and feel a bit more like we are sitting around over coffee talking about our plans together~

 

peony design_courtney khail for kim

 

I also want to share a new project my friend Courtney has recently released.  Courtney is an incredible watercolor artist whose paintings are now available on cards!  Now this isn’t a new thing- Courtney has had cards for some time- but they used to be hand-painted.  The problem was people wouldn’t send them!  Seriously- they would hoard them as pieces of art.  So she decided it was time to make them less precious, in hopes that people would then send them out.  However, Courtney being Courtney, she had to make even having printing her cards difficult!  Because she wanted them to have a rich high-quality feel she found a process where the watercolors would be vibrant and the ink would be bold and raised.  Thus, each card is printed TWICE.  Trust me, these cards are wonderful.  If you are looking for some really special cards to send to those you love, these would be perfect.  You can read more about them from Courtney herself here.  But visit her shop – you will see for yourself~

 

garden rose design_courtney khail for kim

 

Finally, I wanted to make sure you have had a chance to visit my new site which will be where you find all the information and latest updates on my new non-profit, The Grow Hope Foundation, which I am SO EXCITED ABOUT!!  I hope you will visit, and, if you are so inclined there is a donation button at the bottom of the main page.  I am heading back to Uganda this summer and I hope to raise enough funds to bring as many supplies as possible when I go.  I would be so grateful if you were able to help in that goal~
Have a fabulous week friends,
x

 

 

a {Miracle} that I needed today

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These past few weeks have been a bit of a struggle for me.  I know this isn’t the first time I have said those words, and after spending quite a lot of time thinking about it, I have begun to realize that I put a lot of pressure on myself to “accomplish something”.  Sometimes it’s photography oriented- working on projects, writing, shooting, submitting them.  Sometimes it’s running this house- planning and preparing meals, making sure everything is done and on schedule, keeping up on laundry and cleaning and gardens.  Other times it’s planning projects for the home – new gardens, outbuildings to design, decks to build, painting to be done, animals to add to the menagerie.  But for so many years – nearly twenty as a matter of fact – the one thing that has been consistent, the one thing that has demanded the majority of my attention has been my greatest job to date- being a mom to these incredible four boys.  These crazy charismatic hilarious spunky challenging boys.  It is the one job that gives me the most joy and the one job that I can finally sit back after all these years and look at the partial results and admit that maybe, as a mom, I have done a pretty good job.  It has defined me.  It is who I am.  And with them growing up, with #4 needing me in that day-to-day nurturing snuggling maintenance sort of way so much less, I feel my grasp on my identity slipping away.  And some days it depresses the hell out of me.  It literally weighs me down in the center of my chest and leaves me with tears rolling down my face as I wonder who I am supposed to be and what I’m supposed to do now.  I feel rather lost at these times and while I am sure that I am not the first parent to feel this, right now this transitional time can be a struggle for me.  It is no secret to those that know me on a personal level that I would adopt a little girl IN A HEARTBEAT- even my boys know it.  However, one needs both parents to be “in” on such a huge life decision and while I struggle, my husband is embracing this new chapter that is opening up for us.  He loves his time in the studio, working on projects that bring him endless joy and that he is passionate about.  He finds that the less the boys need him on a moment by moment basis, the more he can find joy in things he loves.  And I totally get that.  I respect it, and know that while he is an incredible (amazing unbelievable fabulous) dad he deserves to live the life he dreams of.  And that life doesn’t include adding to our family.

 

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Wow- that is NOT where this post was meant to go.  However, it may explain where I have been- namely- not posting very often these days.  I have been busy trying to embrace life, as it is, right now, with my boys- all five of them.  I have been meeting #1 for coffee at the Whole Foods near his house (when he isn’t coming to dinner or hang out with us), loving watching #2 enjoy his last year of high school and all of the fun that involves, working with #3 on trying some new eating habits and hoping that they help him feel better, both physically and mentally.  And then there is #4, filled with such excitement and joy for life, learning and trying new things.  Last week he tried climbing at our local REI and absolutely LOVED it.  He’s so damn fun.

 

So, again, off track.  Let’s try this again…  This morning an email arrived from Dr. Isaac who is doing such amazing work in Uganda.  He and the volunteers have been working so hard to impact the lives of the community we are working in and I can’t express how grateful I am to them for keeping me so well informed and feeling a little bit closer to it all.

 

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A few months ago Dr. Isaac and the volunteers were out visiting homes when they came across a little girl named Miracle.  Miracle is 6 years old and when our team found her she had been kept indoors  for much of her life due to the stigma attached with her being born with disabilities.   Miracle was born with Spina Bifida, which she had had surgery for when she was younger.  She also has hydrocephalus which which is a buildup of fluid inside the skull that leads to brain swelling.  Due to these conditions, Miracle has not been able to go to school, interact with other children or experience any form of a normal childhood.  She doesn’t have the use of her legs, thus is unable to walk or move around much.

 

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The email that arrived this morning was filled with photos- photos that brought me such joy, such inspiration and such a sense of purpose.  They were photos of Dr. Isaac and Sharon delivering a wheelchair to Miracle.  The team has been working with her to create an environment in her home that enables her to begin to live as a normal 6 year old girl.  They built her a table that supports her so that she can practice writing with a pencil or eat her meals.  They built her a chair to use as a specialized latrine.  And today they delivered a wheelchair- one that they had built to allow Miracle to be moved easily in and out of her home as well as- hopefully, eventually- to school.  The joy- the pure and utter happiness that shines on this little girl’s face in that new chair- it is unmistakable.  The local children surrounded her and were so excited to take turns pushing her around and get to know her.  I can only imagine what this would feel like to a little girl who probably felt very alone for most of her life.  This is a little girl who, were she born here, would be fully integrated into society, and taking part in things that every other child does.  But with stigmas and lack of medical care and therapy, children like Miracle are often kept aside, hidden and forgotten about.  Thankfully our team met her and are now able to completely change the trajectory of her story.  She is one of the many people I can’t wait to meet when I return.  I look forward to the day I can hold Miracle on my lap and practice writing with her.  I am counting the weeks…

 

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Have a wonderful rest of your weekend friends,

x

You can find more about our project on my new Grow Hope Foundation website.  Stop by and say hello~

 

 

{2013} a year in photographs

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the {after Christmas almost to New Year’s} post

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Hello friends,

 

I hope you have had a marvelous holiday season.  We certainly have.  The past month seems to have flown by with preparations – shopping and wrapping and planning the meals we would enjoy.  In the middle of it all I flew off for four days in New York City where I spent time with a dear friend walking and shopping and eating. We were there to celebrate with Charity: Water- an organization that I didn’t know a lot about before I went. After my time spent at their headquarters learning about all of the incredible things they do, I am now a huge supporter.  What an amazing team!  Lead by Scott Harrison, Charity: Water is on a mission to get clean water to as many people as it possibly can.  We were at their annual Charity: Gala where they raised over 4 million dollars!  Do you have any idea how many people will benefit from the generosity of the people who donated?  It was an incredible night and honestly, I was a bit teary watching the enthusiasm and excitement that night.  If you haven’t seen all that they do, check them out.  They have a fabulous store where I just bought my first of many “water” t-shirts.  I wore it today and after all of the indulgence of the past few days of Christmas, it reminded me of where I want to go and what I want to do in the new year.

 

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Speaking of the new year, I have a few aspirations for 2014.  As I believe that putting things out there gives me the inspiration (read: pressure) to follow through, I thought I would share them here.

 

~I want to take more time for sit down lunches, inviting guests, drinking champagne, laughing and inspiring and building each other up 

~I want to purposefully move more, walk regularly, do a class here and there, try new things that make me nervous and will push me out of my comfort zone

~I want to continue to pare down possessions, find new homes for good things that are no longer needed here, use up and finish projects that have been sitting far too long

~I want to support local artisans, farmers and shops more than we currently do.  I want to alter our menu and lifestyle so that we can find  most of what we need at small businesses rather than big box stores

~I want to write more letters and send more parcels to those I love and am grateful for

~date day.  date night.  more of that.

 

latrine

 

I am also in the process of getting The Grow Hope Foundation registered with the Federal government so that I will be able to provide tax receipts for those generous souls who donate to my project in Africa.  After I have that ability, I am going to set a great big fundraising goal- I’m thinking $50k.  Go big or go home, don’t you think?  In 2014 I want to be able to finish the chicken farm project, as well as complete our 50 home pilot project.  {a new post on the progress can be found here} I hope to travel to Uganda to photograph all of the progress our amazing team in Jinja has accomplished.  I want to capture the beautiful village members whose lives have been affected by this project.  Our hope is to show what can be done when a team of dedicated volunteers provide education and guidance to a willing receptive village.

The coming year is sure to bring travel, and adventure.  Laughter and tears- but surely more laughter.  The amazing thing about standing on the edge of a new year is the not knowing what it has in store.  Here’s hoping that 2014 is filled with inspiration, kindness, laughter, generosity and time with those we love.

x

 

{another year} goes by

 

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Tomorrow I will celebrate. Another year will have passed, filled with so many blessings, laughter, happiness, and love that I can barely comprehend it. Of course there have been sad moments, difficult times and challenges – but that is what helps us to grow, don’t you agree? Without those times, how would we appreciate the good ones? I am thankful for both, and the balance they bring.

This past year has given me much to think about. New paths were discovered and my focus was altered once again. I re-connected with my love of being home, creating a space that feels both nurturing and welcoming. I spent time in the gardens, working on long neglected projects as well as beginning new ones. I cooked more, baked more and relaxed more. And yet my passion for travel and humanitarian efforts grew tenfold. I made connections with people who share my love of women and children and community and education. I saw my own world in a new, more appreciative light. My heart grew.

Here on the farm I have enjoyed slowing down with my own five boys. While one is no longer living on the farm, he has returned from his year living out of the country and I can’t begin to tell you how wonderful it is to have him close by again. The ability to meet him for lunch or have him home for dinner is fantastic and yet I love that he has his own home to return to. It seems to be the perfect balance. His little brothers love having him close by and spending time with him- and he in turn (I’m fairly certain) loves being closer to his childhood home.

In the coming year, I hope to keep on keepin’ on. I want to continue to travel, to see new places and visit familiar ones. I want to spend time with friends who inspire me and give me wings. (I feel so incredibly blessed by the friends I have by the way- I must have done something incredible in a past life to end up surrounded by such greatness) I also want to (yet again) attempt to slow down a bit- don’t ask me how. I wish that I could just “be”- especially here at home. I want to get outside more, hike and explore with my boys, and notice more of what is right here in front of us.

I posted my “life list” nearly two years ago.  Thankfully I am still incredibly young as it is going rather slowly… That being said, it is good to go back to it from time to time and remember the things that I wanted to do back then.  Some things have changed – some I no longer am all that interested in.  Maybe I will replace a few things – change it up a bit.  Who knows.  Do you keep a list of things you dream of doing?

Have an amazing rest of your week~

x

 

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our favorite {potatoes}

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I wanted to share this simple yet delicious recipe as I have had a couple of requests for how to make our favorite potatoes.  If you are like us and try to eat seasonally, and you live in the northern hemisphere, potatoes are likely to be on your menu a lot in the coming months.  This is one of our favorite recipes for adding them to almost any meal.  You simply need enough potatoes to feed your crew – I often use red, yellow or a mix of the two sliced about 1/3″ thick, enough olive oil to toss said potatoes in, a pinch of salt and a pinch of pepper, as well as a bit of fresh rosemary.  The two tablespoons of butter are optional- but not in this house…

Preheat your cast iron pan (or any metal pan or cookie sheet) in a 350? F oven for about ten minutes.  Toss all of your ingredients together in a bowl and then pour them into your preheated pan.  Return the pan to the oven and cook until the potatoes begin to soften- usually about 20 minutes.  If you want to add a bit of butter like we do, take the pan out, give the potatoes a bit of a stir, add the butter and then stir again.  Return the pan to the oven for another 15-20 minutes.  You want your potatoes to be soft and nicely browned.  I tend to cook them in the top half of the oven but I cook with a gas oven so it may be different for an electric one.

When I take them out of the oven I use a finishing salt and just sprinkle a bit on top before serving.

 

Another couple amazing looking recipes~

These winter squash look amazing

How about roasting peaches?

This caramel apple dessert is another use for your cast iron pan.

And what about a roasted salad~

Bon appetite!

x

the gift of {giving}

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Hi friends,

Autumn has truly arrived here on the farm.  If there was any doubt, it was removed this past weekend when the winds whipped the leaves in a frenzy and the power was lost for about 24 hours.  As I have been on my own with the boys for the past 8 days we were left to get the generator running, light candles and make sure the fires were going.   This is indeed my favorite season as I am a nester by nature and love a good “batten down the hatches” day.  I feel incredibly blessed that when the weather turns our family has a place to go that is warm and dry.  I feel blessed that our pantry is never bare and we never go to bed hungry.  And while this is an issue for some year round it seems that with the colder weather it is brought to the forefront and seems more prevalent- more pressing come late autumn and winter.  Thus, after being inspired by another creative soul I spent today doing a bit of shopping.  I really (really really really) want to make this holiday season one of giving and selflessness- of kindness towards our fellow man and doing what we can to bring comfort and joy to those that need it.

We put together these little comfort bags- a small collection of things I imagine those without a home or a stable income could use.  We often come across people in our community in need and while it is easy to hand a dollar or two to a stranger, I felt that it was more important to take the time to put something together that would not only be useful but let them know that we had thought of them.  I intend to offer these bags without expectation and am prepared to be turned down.  However as I hope that for the most part they will be well-received and that if nothing else, they will bring a bit of joy to someone we don’t even know.

I really want our boys to become men of integrity as well as men who feel the pull to leave the world a better place because they were in it.

dream big.  do good.

x

{tiggy & grace} pop-up

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I am SO excited about opening the shop my friends!  It seems like it has been forever and I have been thinking about what I really wanted to share.  I have added some things that I hope you will love as much as I do.  There are some incredible drinkable vinegars which are absolutely perfect for the holidays- especially if you love the idea of enjoying cocktails with friends but don’t want the alcohol.  With a bit of ice and some carbonated bubbly water – plus your favorite Ludlow shrub- you have a gorgeous delicious cocktail!

 

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I have also added some fun colored canvas market bags- simple and sturdy and colorful for the darker days of winter.   They are spacious and perfect to bring shopping and make a wonderful gift that is earth friendly to boot!

 

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I was fortunate enough to be able to find (through a friend) my all-time favorite shears.  I keep mine in the kitchen and they come in handy for a multitude of tasks- most often cutting herbs and flowers from the gardens. They are pretty and sharp and a great tool to keep handy.

 

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While in France this summer I picked up some of these darling “homemade” canning jars- the sides say “fait maison” and while I brought home some for myself, I wanted to share some with you as well.  While you could definitely use them for canning, they are also a great size for storage in your pantry.

 

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I’ve also added tea towels!  Made from the same fabulous linen that my napkins are made out of, these tea towels are larger and so useful in the kitchen.  I use them to cover fresh bread before dinner or to line a bowl before putting rolls in it.  They are of course useful towels as well~  They measure 16″ by 24″ and are rough edged like the napkins.

 

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I’ve also added one of our current favorite teas – Harney & Son’s “Paris”.  #2 drinks it every evening and has grown into quite the tea man since Paris came into our lives.  I adore the tins as well as the beautiful tea bags as it makes brewing a cup of tea feel special~

 

The shop will open WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 30TH and will remain open for three days.  As I so enjoyed the feel of the pop-up in the past, I wanted to return to that as we approach the holiday season.  Many of the things in the shop would make wonderful gifts for Christmas so come see what’s new and hopefully you will find something you love!

See you Wednesday!

http://tiggygrace.bigcartel.com

 

 

 

{autumn} has arrived

autumn drive

 

Autumn has arrived, and with it the incredible colors that she brings.  We have had a beautiful last week or so and I am enjoying every moment of it.  We wake to thick fog covering the farm making it difficult to see from one end to the other.  It often burns away during the day, leaving us with brisk sunshine- my very favorite weather.  I have noticed that it begins to move in again as the sun is setting – creating this misty dream-like haze over the gardens.

I am enjoying time in the kitchen when the weather is cold.  I love cooking things that take a long time and make the house smell delicious.  I always find myself nesting this time of year- thinking of the coming holidays, making mental meal plans and this year, opting for small and quiet rather than big and boisterous. As my husband says, it is early and things could change but, for now, I think I would prefer to keep it low-key and peaceful this season.

We have a number of things we have been working on lately which has kept me from doing much blogging. We recently purchased a little house in North Seattle that is in the process of being painted and getting ready to rent.  She is a sweet little 1947 bungalow and we call her Wedgewood House.  I can’t wait to share more when she is ready and if you know someone looking for a rental in the Seattle area, send them our way!

As soon as Wedgewood house is completed we will finally break ground and get our deck and doors off the kitchen underway.  I am SO excited about this project as it will be a space that I imagine I will use every day. With it being off the kitchen and partially covered it should be a place that we can use much of the year.  I know that come spring we will eat most of our meals there when the weather permits~

I am also excited to open the shop for a three day pop-up in the next two weeks.  It is long overdue but I am hoping you enjoy the new items and are able to find your old favorites as well!  Stay tuned as I will announce the dates here on the blog a few days before she goes live!

There is something about foraging that appeals to me on a deep level.

A sweet Autumn post with a recipe that looks delish!

This treat would be very popular at our house!

Homemade candybars?  What’s not to love?

a walk in the {woods}

nature walk montage

Because sometimes, when you should be doing homework and getting dinner ready, the sun shines and you need to go walking in the woods.

{hello} October

 

autumn-2

 

In my mind October sounds like Autumn.  September still rings with the sound of warm afternoons, sunshine and those last few weeks of summer.  But October.  October tends to be associated with words like blustery and cozy and nesting and soup.  In October I tend to take stock of things- I make lists.  I clean out and tidy up.  I part with things no longer useful to us and stock up on things we may need for the coming months. Maybe it is a part of our nature, preparing for those long cold winter months where the weather isn’t welcoming and the idea of going out in it isn’t all that appealing.  There is something wonderful about sending people off to school or work for the day and then having the house to yourself, to put things in order, plan meals and feel productive.  Add to that a great playlist in the background, a few gorgeous candles burning and a fire going and you have what I would consider the perfect Autumn day~

I made THIS delicious soup last week.

I love a SIMPLE LOAF filled with spices.

I will be making THIS chai today- as chai is one of my favorites.

Have a wonderful October mes amies!

x